Rumor has it…that there are one million bicycles in Beijing. In order to find out if it’s true or not, as far as I got to this city, I decided to rent a bike.The problem was I had no idea how to do this. Luckily, when I was checking-in at the reception desk in my hostel, I saw 3 bikes standing outside. As it turned out there were all available to rent. With no hesitation, I left all my stuff in my room, bought a map of Beijing and took one of the bikes. The map was huge and the distance between Beijing’s top sights and the place from which I was about to set out seemed to be very long but for me it was even better: more challenge! At that time, my desire was to see the Tiananmen Square considered as the world’s largest public square in an immense flatland of paving stones at the heart of this city and the Forbidden City, the best-preserved complex of ancient buildings. Before I got on my bike, I had a quick look at the map. I must have looked very confused at that moment as someone behind me asked in English “Do you need some help?”. I turned around and saw a Chinese guy, my age, who was riding his bike. He looked very friendly and my first thought was to ask him whether he would like to join me or now. I was like “Any change you could show me where the Tiananmen Square is?” The guy laughed and replied “On your bike? Hahaha, it’s very far away”. Honestly, I didn’t care about the distance, it was 1pm and I had plenty of time to get lost even million times in this huge city to finally get where I wanted to be. I asked him once more “Do you want to join me?”. He smiled again and said “Sure, but it will be a long, long ride”. For me, it sounded like a plan!
Riding a bike across this city was my favourite way to actually see the beauty of this place. We were cycling from sight to sight, had a stop for a snack and then dinner in one of Beijing restaurants (noodles never tasted better after such a physical effort!). That day we explored old alleys of Beijing. The traffic jam had no effect on us, we could get anywhere we wanted on our bikes. It was very dangerous though as there were no traffic lights and no rules on the street. I wasn’t scared at all, I was just going ahead, further and further, faster and faster. I forgot about everything and enjoyed my ride. Most of pedestrians were waving to me and the drivers were shouting “Hello!”. For me, biking was not only one of the best ways to get from one place to another in this busy and over-crowded city, but mostly an eye intro the minds of people who live here. Every time we stopped, we spoke to some local people who were so friendly and nice. They invited us to the shops they owned, offered us some free sweets and took some pictures of us without asking for anything back. After we visited the Forbidden City, the Tiananmen Square and some museums we had to get back as it was getting late. The way back to my hostel seemed to be so easy after so many hour of cycling. I felt like I could close my eyes and still would be able to find the right direction, like I knew this city for a long time, like I was here before. The great thing is that all roads in Beijing accommodate bikes so there is no problem with renting one at any time, any day. All you need to do is to pay a deposit (cash, up to 30 Yuan) and mostly in every hostel you will be asked to leave your passport in a safe as a guarantee. As one of local people explained to us, people here can’t afford a car (it’s too expensive and the traffic jam is too heavy). Therefore, a bike had become a part of Chinese culture and we can combine a great entertainment with a relaxing sightseeing.